KYIV | On Tuesday, the Ukrainian military faces a major offensive by Russian forces in Kiev, Kharkiv, Mariupol port and other cities, prompting Europeans to tighten sanctions on Russia, urging the Ukrainian president to act.
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On the sixth day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Governor Oleg Sinekopov pointed out in a video that the central square of Kharkiv, the second city of the country with a population of 1.4 million, near the Russian border had been bombed and the regional province affected. Telegram showing the explosion.
According to the Ukrainian Emergency Service, at least 10 people were killed and more than 20 were injured.
The fighting took place on Monday in Okhtyrka, 100 kilometers northwest of Kharkiv, in which “about 70 Ukrainian militants” were killed, but several Russians were killed, local officials said. When questioned, the Ukrainian military did not confirm this estimate.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reaffirmed the seriousness of the attack, insisting that “special military action” – an expression used by Moscow to refer to the invasion – would “continue” until the targets were reached.
President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced Kharkiv as “a war crime” and stressed that Kiev’s security was a “priority”.
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Satellite photos released overnight by the American satellite film company Maxar show a Russian convoy traveling tens of thousands of kilometers from the northwest to the Ukrainian capital.
The Russian military has ordered Kiev civilians living near Ukrainian intelligence stations to evacuate.
Witnessing Russian progress, the Ukrainian military maneuvers, lined with trucks and tanks, tightened west and north of the capital, the AFP noted.
“The shooting and shelling kept us awake all night,” said Natasha, 51, who opened a restaurant for soldiers and volunteers in the village of Chaika, west of Kiev.
In the center of Kiev, it was snowing at night, and the basic necessities shops that were still open were always full. Residents who did not flee have set up barricades and dug trenches for the past few days.
The Russians seem to have advanced in the Sea of Azov, in the south of the country, where many large Ukrainian cities are located.
The Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday morning that power had been cut off after the attack on the port of Mariupol (southeast), with troops advancing from the Crimea to the coast and those from Donetsk coming from pro-Russian separatist territory. Succeeded in making their connection.
The information was not verified immediately. Not long ago, the Ukrainian military said it had thwarted the attempt.
According to its mayor Igor Kolikayev, the Russian military has also set up roadblocks at the entrances to the west coast town of Kherson (290,000 people). Videos of residents posted on social media show Russian soldiers.
New restrictions “for sure”
Faced with this development, President Zhelensky called for his country’s “immediate” integration into the EU, intervening in the European Parliament via video conference, calling on Europeans to “prove their allegiance to Ukraine.” . .
In his speech, European Council President Charles Michael accused Russia of “geopolitical terrorism.”
If a rapid consolidation in the EU appears to be excluded, Europeans indicated on Monday evening that they were ready to further tighten the already-historic sanctions already in place against Russia following a new exchange with US President Joe Biden.
“We will definitely impose new sanctions on Russia,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholes confirmed Tuesday. “The bloodshed must stop,” he said, adding that Ukraine was fighting for “its survival.”
“We are going to cause the collapse of the Russian economy,” said Bruno Le Myre, the French economy’s acting head of the European Union.
“Vladimir Putin underestimated the unity and commitment of the West and the rest of the world,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has announced 500 million euros in humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
The international community is trying to snatch all of Russia’s international funding and freeze the assets of Vladimir Putin and his entourage.
Moscow retaliated by launching a series of shocking measures on Monday to support the economy and the ruble. On Tuesday, the Russian Prime Minister announced that he was preparing a new decree to block the flight of foreign investors, while the Moscow Stock Exchange was closed.
Global markets – especially in Europe – are feeling the effects of this conflict. Oil prices continued to rise, especially ahead of Wednesday’s meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies.
In addition to sanctions, Russia is now excluded from many cultural and sporting events in Qatar, including the 2022 World Cup.
But despite this unprecedented pressure, anti-war demonstrations and manifestations of solidarity with Ukraine in many countries, Mr. Putin maintains his demands.
During an exchange with French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday, he outlined the recognition of Crimea as Russian territory, the militarization of Ukraine and the “reduction” of conditions for a halt to the invasion. This was at the time of the first Russian-Ukrainian talks.
The Russian and Ukrainian delegates parted ways a few hours later in consultation with their respective capitals, indicating that they might meet again “soon”.
Mr. Zhelensky on Tuesday underlined that “the synchronization of the shootings with the negotiation process is obvious.”
The Kremlin considered these first speeches to be “evaluated” in advance.
One million were displaced
The conflict has left flooding Ukrainians on the roads, with more than 660,000 of them fleeing to neighboring countries since Thursday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on Tuesday.
Long queues of cars continued from the large city of Lviv in western Ukraine towards the Polish border, which became the exit door and retreat hub.
Leaving the men of the family to “defend Ukraine”, the women retreated to the city of Lviv, where they rallied, either by donating blood or by creating camouflage nets.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday estimated that there were one million internally displaced people in Ukraine.
The EU expects more than seven million displaced people.
The extent of human casualties remains uncertain. The UN cited 102 civilians killed and 304 injured on Monday, saying the figures were “significantly higher”.
Ukraine announced on Monday that 352 civilians had been killed and 2,040 wounded since Thursday, and that thousands of Russian soldiers had been killed.
The Russian forces admitted losses in their ranks without giving any estimate.